Of my writing resolutions for 2011, I've realised there's one that's more important to get right than the others, and it's the one I've battled with since I started writing about 5 years ago. I listed it as be less distracted by the internet in my resolutions post, but more broadly it's about being focused when I'm 'writing'.
What I really want to get better at this year is using the time outside of my paid job in a more meaningful way. And, actually, it goes beyond writing, and into looking after my well being too.
The most frustrating thing I am prone to doing is being at my desk, wanting to write, but being unable to make the mental commitment to doing it. It's ridiculous, and I completely agree with people who champion the fact that writing isn't that hard - just fooking do it.
I want to make things easier for my brain. And what I tell you next is not mind blowing or revolutionary in the least, in fact it's simple and makes sense but for whatever reason I haven't tried it before now.
For the past 3 days I have changed one small thing that has had a huge impact on what I've written.
Do not go online until you have achieved X, Y and maybe one more thing, Z.
At the start of each day I've decided what X and Y and sometimes Z are, so today:
X = 500 more words on the book
Y = re-edit of short story for Mslexia comp
Z = more work on other book-in-progress
(Z isn't always there, it depends how much time I have in that day to dedicate to writing.)
No emails are checked, no blogs read, no online news fixes quenched until I've ticked off each thing to do for that day. And, it's going really well.
It's not a new thing for me to make lists or find new ways of making lists or attempt new ways of being productive or find new ways to measure productivity but isn't this just the most straight forward way of doing things, ever?
I must credit Nicola Morgan here, for her post just after the new year. Nicola looked back on 2010 and realised she'd really not kept her 2 fairly simple resolutions to put writing at the top of her work priorities, and relax and exercise each day.
It was something about Nicola's realisation that these 2 things - writing and taking care of herself - are the most important things she should attend to in her day that stayed with me after reading her post.
That writing should come first before all else is like I said, simple, unrevolutionary stuff, but gets to the core of what I've been trying to work out for ages.
So, there it is. Three days of doing this and I've written more, read more, relaxed a lot more, and felt in control because it's easier to measure my progress.
Aside from 'No Internet until X Y and Sometimes Z' I've also stopped using the computer for writing or online meanderings after 6pm. This helps distinguish between working and not working, and is probably better for my eyes and my back and my head.
If you're prone to email/FB/google distraction I'd urge you to try these 2 things - though I also know that finding ways to work is a personal thing. If you do try it, let me know. Or tell us how you already focus your writing time.